When the heat of summer rolls into Daegu I pretty quickly start counting the days for an escape to different climates. This year was down to Borneo and Brunei, to explore the mountains and jungles on the island. I had the luxury of direct flights from Busan, albeit on a very non-luxury plane, and 2.5 weeks to explore.

I was heading down to Borneo in peak season. Places in SE Asia that aren’t experiencing heavy monsoon weather in August are few and far between and coupled with school vacations meant that it was going to be busy. This did mean I had to pre-book most of what I wanted to do and then stick to an itinerary rather than just be able to wander, but with a tight timescale I was okay with that. It did mean that I could maximise my time doing activities than have to be thinking about where I was going to stay the next day.

I’d booked trips to go hiking up  Mt. Kinabula, Malaysia’s highest mountain, trips into two different rainforests – Danum Valley rainforest and Mulu National Park, and then also spend a couple of nights checking out the oil rich country of Brunei. Coupled with a couple of nights in various cities and travel time that was my full vacation eaten up. Funny how you can sum up in an entire trip in a sentence or two, but a lot happened in those two sentences.

I embarked on this trip solo, my first trip since China heading out alone, and really it kind of felt like my first actual solo trip. For in China I just seemed to bump into people going the same way as me, and so we’d travel sections together. As soon as I parted ways with one group/person, I’d meet another and maybe more anxious than I am now to travel alone we’d set off together.

On this trip, whilst I met a ton of great people, it was never for more than a few days. Borneo was in peak season, so to do the journeys into the jungles etc. you couldn’t just show up, it had to be planned, so most people I met had semi-set itineraries. Borneo also seemed to attract a lot more couples and families than I’ve met on other trips. There was certainly fewer solo travellers than in China, so less people just relaxing in cafes/bars to randomly meet.

At a risk at sounding to douchey there are a few things that I discovered on the trip and to sum it all up, this trip just made me really excited for my longer journey after my Korea contract is up next year.

  • My own company isn’t always a bad thing. People who know me well in Korea know that I love to have a packed schedule. My weekends are busy from now until late November and scheduling meeting up with people for dinner in the evening is often planning for the next week. Yet on this trip the time I had alone to either explore, watch a sunset, drink a coffee, read a book, was delightful. Since getting back to Korea I now try to keep an evening or two a week free for just me time.
  • Solo travel = more random adventures. I already believed this to be true, but this trip confirmed it. A few adventures: hitch-hiking as the bus system as shut down and meeting fun local families on the journey, sitting down with a randomer at a table because you don’t fancy eating alone and it turning into a crazy night in the city, spur of the moment cabs to hot springs that actually turned out to be a bit luke-warm, joining a pre dawn run through the jungle and ending up being chased by monkeys; when you’re by yourself you can just get up and go, it’s exhilarating.
  • I love my Kindle. One’s own company is great, but sometimes you don’t want to get too lost in your own thoughts and a good book is the best. I inherited a very fast reading speed from my dad and so I burn through books, having my Kindle let me get through so many good reads. I really enjoyed reading novellas in-between longer reads – both The Stranger and The Vegetarian were interesting, thought provoking stories that give you something to think about during the next sunset.
  • Travelling alone can suck. It’s not all good, there are times when you really wish you had a companion along with you. Especially if you get stuck in a super boring town for a night. In dull places like that you can make it fun with another person, alone they more of a challenge. Kindles help a lot, but sometimes you do want company.

So that’s the short of my trip. My gallery is up to date for the trip and you can find more in depth reads below of each section 🙂

More from this trip:

Kota Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu

Into the Jungles